Perspectives from Newburgh, Part Two

We asked graduate students from Columbia University‘s architecture and urban design program to reflect on their studio in Newburgh, NY, and what makes work in legacy cities distinct from other American cities. The second winning submission comes to us from Anais Niembro and Nans Voron. Thanks to all the teams who participated!

Working in Newburgh was a challenge for us, as students coming from all other the world. We had to face specific issues deeply rooted in the social struggles of the last 50 years in the United States. We had to quickly analyze and understand this historical context in order to identify triggers and leverage the tools that we had.

Our involvement with the city of Newburgh was also a challenge for the community. Even though many stakeholders were enthusiastic about our collaboration, addressing the local community was difficult. Many were intimidated by our “investigation”, others worried that our work would lead to gentrification and to a loss of social ties amongst the residents.… Read More

Perspectives from Newburgh, Part One

We asked graduate students from Columbia University‘s architecture and urban design program to reflect on their studio in Newburgh, NY, and what makes work in legacy cities distinct from other American cities. The first post comes to us from Katherine Flores. Thanks to all the teams who submitted posts!

Each city or town in New York’s Hudson River Valley has some degree of positive or negative aspects relative to one another. These nuances are what create the tension between defining regional systems and negotiating multiple urban design scales. At the scale of the city, each legacy city can carry its own identity. Newburgh and other cities such as Poughkeepsie or Beacon have similar situations from the stress, or even trauma, of going through urban renewal.

But in the case of Newburgh, when one first researches the city online it is likely you will get a crime alert. If you research Poughkeepsie, that is not the case.… Read More

Military Park: A Catalyst for Newark’s Renaissance

kimberlyheadBy Kimberly Dowdell

At the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Military Park in Newark, New Jersey last month, Senator Cory Booker made the insightful remark that “strong American cities require strong parks and urban spaces.” As several hundred people gathered to celebrate the official re-opening of the historic park, there was a renewed sense of hope for the future of Newark as a strong city. The energy in that celebratory space and moment in time seemed to reflect a new beginning for Newark’s downtown, as well as the 6-acre, triangular-shaped park that was being ceremoniously handed back to the public after more than a year of construction – and decades of disrepair.

Established in 1667, Military Park initially served as a training ground for soldiers – as well as a camping site for George Washington’s troops during the Revolutionary War in 1776. Nearly a century later, Military Park became the official town commons of Newark and gained further distinction as the site of several important American monuments and statues.… Read More

A Tale of Two Cities

hankwebberphotoBy Hank Webber

The dominant narrative about legacy cities is one of decline, loss of population and increasing poverty. This narrative is, at best, dramatically oversimplified. Legacy cities do face great challenges, but they are also full of hope and resurgence, and scores of increasingly vibrant neighborhoods. Legacy cities can best be thought of not as places of decline but rather as straddling between two very different worlds.

First is the world of urban revitalization: the growth of diverse, vibrant urban neighborhoods that are becoming increasingly attractive to young people and the firms that employ them. Every large city I know has neighborhoods that are getting better by traditional economic criteria. St. Louis, the city where my wife and I live and where I focus much of my research, is clearly a legacy city. Yet the neighborhood where we live, the Central West End, is not only very attractive by all conventional standards, it is also rapidly getting stronger.… Read More